BPD honors 3rd Citizens Police Academy graduates
Friday, 20 April 2012 by Justin Cox
In a class where City Manager Sam Listi wins the "Quick Draw" Award, just about anything is possible — at least that's the attitude of the participants who took part in the third annual Belton Citizen's Police Academy, which held its graduation Thursday.
In a scene full of laughs and reflections on learning new things about the police operations in Belton, Fort Hood and beyond, the graduation ceremony this past week, hosted by Belton Police Chief Gene Ellis and company reflected the success of the program in its third installment.
Ellis instituted the first such academy two years ago in order to shed light on what the department really does each and every day, as well as have a few extra eyes in the community.
The 10-week course, which got under way in January, provides an overview of the police department and provides information on such topics as use of force, narcotics, building searches, traffics stops and criminal investigation.
Awards were given out for goofy behavior, best actor, and the aforementioned quick draw - but this wasn't a night based on awards. It was a night to thank people in the community for taking part in learning more about their police department, and more about each other.
Fort Hood Chief of Police David Ross, who coordinated the local efforts of officers during the Fort Hood shooting on Nov. 5, 2009, was the honored speaker during the event, noting how much efforts in the community help him and his own team do their job better each and every day.
"We were out there benefitting from our community efforts," Ross said. "These are important to bring community like you and learn about what the officers are doing."
Ellis said the program is designed to promote understanding through education, learn what it's like to walk in a police officer's shoes.
"There is always an education for us by learning what the expectations for the community are," Ellis said. "We take a non-traditional approach to it – very little classroom and a whole lot of hands-on activities."
Those taking the course include men and women who range in age from late 20s to 70s.
Students included business people, city officials, retirees and others.
Topics ranged over that period of time from crime scene investigations, the various levels of utilization of force, and forensics. Additionally, classes included hands-on experience with police equipment like tasers, simulated firearms range shooting, and performing a building search.
Each student was also required during the course to do a ride-along with a Belton police officer on the job that ranged in length from a minimum of four hours to a suggested eight.